Schalmont administrators and Board of Education are currently in the process of building the 2017-18 Schalmont Central School District. Residents are encouraged to join in by attending a variety of budget-related events during this time.
The typical first step in constructing a new school budget is to create a “rollover” budget. A rollover budget assumes the district will keep all programming and staff exactly as it is and budgets for any known increases in salaries and pensions, while making projections for items such as energy, health insurance, etc. for the next year. This now becomes the preliminary or working budget and serves as a starting point for discussion.
The 2016-17 expense budget for Schalmont is $46,570, 427. The rollover expense budget for 2017-18 is estimated at $48,340,200. This leaves the district facing a $1.6 million expense budget gap.
The revenue side of the budget is a little more complicated. Last year, $1 million in fund balance was allocated to the 2016-17 budget. That leaves the revenue side of the rollover budget for 2017-18 with an additional $1 million gap from the start, resulting in a total budget gap for 2017-18 of $ 2.6 million.
However, there are several factors that will still affect the development process (see What We Don't Know below), and the budget gap may and most likely will change between now and when the board of education adopts a proposed budget on April 10.
Considerations affecting the budget gap
The first factor that affected the budget gap is state aid. With the release of the Executive Budget Proposal on Jan. 17, schools across the state received estimated state aid runs. These are based on the governor’s proposed budget and often change by the time the final state budget is adopted April 1.
Currently, Schalmont is expected to receive an estimated $100,000 increase in foundation aid for the next school year. This would bring the gap down to $2.5 million.
With staff retirments set, the district is expecting a $300,00 "breakage" or savings between retirees' salaries and those of new hirers. This reduces the gap further to 2.2 million.
If th district would once again apply $1 million in fund balance to offset the budet, the gap would be reduced to 1.2 million.
The district has a maximum tax levy increase for 2017-18 of 1.46 percent. This would allow the district to increase the levy up to $406,127 and still pass the budget with a simple majority vote.
The district has the option to increase the levy beyond this limit. Currently, the board and the administration are considering the possibility of exceeding the tax levy limit.
If the board presents voters with a proposed 2 percent levy increase, or $550,000, it would reduce the budget gap to $700,00.
The Budget Advisory Committee suggested the board consider a tax levy increase of 2.95 percent, or $822,500. This would reduce the budget gap to $400,000.
Of course, the board could consider a budget with a tax levy increase somewhere between 2 and 2.95 percent as well. However, presenting any budget with a tax levy increas more than doing so would require a 60 percent super majority to approve the budget.
As part of the process, administrators have begun identifying potential areas for reduction.
As the process develops and the above options and additional considerations are weighed, the board will continue to have discussions on several topics, including:
Residents and staff are encouraged to continue to join in the discussion. Questions, comments, and concerns are welcome. Together, we can work to build a budget that meets the needs of our students while remaining mindful of the limitations of our taxpayers.
The board will adopt a proposed budget at its April 10 meeting. Residents will then vote on the budget on Tuesday, May 16 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the high school new gym lobby, 1 Sabre Drive, Schenectady.
Budget priorities are guided by goals established in the district's strategic plan by the Board of Education, the district and the community.
Schalmont Advance 2018 is an ambitious five-year strategic plan or
“road map” that identifies five strategic goals for the success and
improvement of the district. It was approved by the Schalmont Board of
Education in March 2014 and is continuously updated based on
implementation. Learn more about the plan at
Residents also have the opportunity annually to share their priorities with the district as part of the budget vote exit survey.
It is a combination of these priorities that helps inform budget decisions.
The five goals outlined in the strategic plan are:
Top-rated priorities according to residents who have taken the budget vote exit survey for the past five years:
Administrators are weighing potential reductions that would save the most money, while preserving our priorities.
Potential action / savings